In one of the biggest games on Saturday’s college football schedule, No. 8 Georgia is hosting No. 13 Alabama “between the hedges.” Among those in attendance is Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox, and it’s safe to say that he arrived at Sanford Stadium dressed for the occasion.
Spiked shoulder pads, body and face paint, and a wig. Well done, Coach Fox.
Whether or not Fox was going to do this was up in the air, as he took to Twitter Friday and noted that the last time he put on body paint he broke out in hives that didn’t go away for a month. Hopefully the paint Fox used today won’t trigger a similar reaction.
Fox last joined the “Spike Crew” at the front of the student section just over two years ago for Georgia’s game against LSU. On that day the Bulldogs held off LSU in a 44-41 thriller, and the hope in Athens that they’ll get a similar result against the Crimson Tide.
After leading Georgia to 21 wins and an NCAA tournament berth in his second season at the helm (2010-11), Georgia head coach Mark Fox missed out on postseason play two consecutive years before reaching the Postseason NIT in 2013-14. Things got even better for the Bulldogs this past season, as they navigated numerous injuries on their way to 21 wins and the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2011.
As a result Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity rewarded Fox with a contract extension through the 2019-20 season, and the extension was approved by the UGA Athletics Association Board of Directors on Thursday.
“Six years ago I envisioned that together we could heal and build a great basketball program at the University of Georgia,” Fox said in the release announcing the extension. “The collective efforts of many people now allow us to praise our team on the court, in the classroom, and in our community. This pride, along with the passion of the Dawg Nation, provide great energy as we strive to achieve even higher levels of success.
“I am grateful for the continued support from our board, Greg, and President [Jere] Morehead. It is an honor to work each day with people that share the same values and commitment.”
While the Bulldogs have to account for the loss of two key interior players in Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic, they’ve got some talent returning to Athens on the perimeter. Charles Mann, J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines all return, and in the front court promising forward Yante Maten will be a sophomore.
Georgia adds four players to the program this summer, including guard Will Jackson and wing E’Torrion Wilridge.
After winning five straight games to rebound from an 0-2 start to SEC play Georgia played its worst game of the season Saturday against South Carolina. Mark Fox’s Bulldogs shot 22 percent from the field, making just eight of their thirty-three two point attempts in the 67-50 loss, and the absence of starting forward Marcus Thornton contributed to their struggles.
Thornton (13.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg), who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding, remained home after suffering a concussion (he hit the floor hard as a result of a flagrant foul) in Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt last Tuesday night. The question now is whether or not Thornton will be available when the Bulldogs visit No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday.
In a story written by Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thornton’s father wasn’t sure as to whether or not Marcus would be able to return to the lineup for that game.
“I just don’t know,” Billy Thornton said. “It’s day-by-day. I just don’t have a good sense about it. It wouldn’t surprise if he wasn’t available for that game; it wouldn’t surprise me at all. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Rebounding wasn’t an issue for Georgia in their loss at South Carolina, but when you shoot as poorly as they did there are bound to be plenty of opportunities to grab offensive rebounds. But without Thornton the other options at the four struggled mightily, with freshman Yante Maten getting the start and playing just 18 minutes before fouling out.
Given the front court firepower that Kentucky will counter with, having Thornton would clearly help the Bulldogs slow down the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein. But at 14-6 overall and 5-3 in SEC play the bigger concern is making sure that Thornton is at full strength for the stretch run, with Georgia aiming for its first NCAA tournament berth since 2011.